Local News

Waterfall School to host Salish language classes

Oct 09, 2013

Hearts Gathered will teach Salish language classes on Tuesdays starting Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Waterfall School near Omak.

Classes are open to all community members. HG especially hopes that parents of Waterfall School students attend the classes so that families will speak Salish in their homes.

“We really want the families of our students to take the classes, so that they can speak the language with their children,” Michele Seymour, a teacher at Waterfall School, said.

Now in its fourth year, Waterfall School has 17 students in grades preschool through 2nd grade. Each successive year, the school adds a higher grade level while also admitting a new cohort of preschool students.

“Our overall objectives are to educate our students in every academic subject they need to learn while making them fluent speakers in our Native language,” said Hearts Gathered executive director, Melissa Campobasso. “We do this by speaking to them and instructing them in ns?lxcin.”

Ns?lxcin is the language spoken at the school. It an interior Salishan dialect which is spoken by Okanogan, Lakes, San Poil, Nespelem, Methow and Colville people.

Hearts Gathered started operating the school in 2010 with the vision of educating students by teaching them academic subjects in the Native language – and thereby revitalizing the language.

The school is located on the campus known as St. Mary’s Mission, also the former location of the Paschal Sherman Indian School. In Salish, the name of the school is sk?ant s?nm?a?m?a?ya?t?n. “sk?ant” means waterfall. “s?nm?a?m?a?ya?t?n” means school. This is a traditional gathering place known as sk?ant, which in ns?lxcin means waterfalls, named for the nearby Omak Falls.

Hearts Gathered is a nonprofit organization working to revitalize the languages spoken on the Colville Reservation. Its purpose is to preserve and promote the use of the Native languages by operating Native language immersion schools at which the Native languages are used as the language of instruction.

The Colville Reservation is home to 12 distinct tribal groups which traditionally spoke three separate languages: ns?lxcin, nxa?amcin and nimipu.

Hearts Gathered is a tax-exempt private, nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. It is governed by a board of directors. For more information about Hearts Gathered or the Waterfall School, please contact (509) 422-5653 or heartsgathered@yahoo.com


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